Buffy Hummingbird Species

The Buffy Hummingbird (Leucippus fallax) is a small hummingbird native to coastal regions of Peru and northern Chile. With an average body length of 8-9 cm and weight of 2-3 grams, it is one of the smaller hummingbird species in South America. Some key facts about the Buffy Hummingbird:

– The Buffy Hummingbird gets its name from its uniquely colored plumage. The male has a metallic turquoise-green crown, nape, and throat, with a black mask across the eyes. The rest of the body is cinnamon brown on the upperparts and pale gray on the underparts. The female is similar but has a pale throat and lacks the black mask. The bill is short and straight.

– The turquoise and cinnamon coloration distinguishes the Buffy Hummingbird from other similar species. The Green-headed Hillstar is the closest relative, but it has a darker green crown. Vervain Hummingbirds have more purple and less green on the head.

– Juveniles resemble adult females but have white tips on the outer tail feathers. The plumage color becomes more vibrant after the first molt.

Range and Habitat
– The Buffy Hummingbird is endemic to coastal Peru and northern Chile. Its range extends from central Peru southward to the Atacama region of northern Chile.

– This species occupies arid coastal valleys and foothills up to 1500 m elevation. It prefers habitats with flowering shrubs and cacti, including lomas fog oases, riparian woodlands, and suburban gardens.

Behavior and Ecology
– Buffy Hummingbirds feed mainly on nectar taken from a variety of flowers, including non-native species like Eucalyptus. They also eat small insects as a source of protein.

– They are aggressive around feeding territories and will chase away other hummingbirds or perching birds. Males perform aerial courtship displays to attract females.

– The nest is a small cup of plant fibers and spider webs attached to branches in trees or shrubs. The female alone builds the nest and raises the chicks. She lays two tiny white eggs and incubates them for 14-19 days.

– Buffy Hummingbirds are partially migratory. Northern populations move northward or to higher elevations for the winter. Those near the equator likely do not migrate.

Conservation Status
– The Buffy Hummingbird has a wide range and is fairly common in suitable habitat. The IUCN Red List classifies it as a species of Least Concern.

– Major threats include habitat loss from urbanization, agriculture, and mining. The spread of invasive plant species also degrades native vegetation.

– Parts of its range are protected in national parks and reserves. Maintaining native plant communities will be important for conservation of this hummingbird.

Interesting Facts
– Buffy Hummingbirds beat their wings up to 15 times per second and can fly faster than 30 mph. Their heart rate can reach as high as 1,260 beats per minute.

– They have the ability to enter torpor, a state of decreased physiological activity, to conserve energy overnight or when food is scarce. Their breathing and heart rate slow dramatically.

– Males perform courtship displays by rapidly flying back and forth in a pendulum motion beneath a perch where the female is sitting. They produce buzzing and popping sounds with their tail feathers during these displays.

– Their long, specialized tongue can flick in and out up to 13 times per second when feeding on nectar. Capillary tubes along the tongue draw nectar up by capillary action.

– Buffy Hummingbirds get most of their required water from the nectar they feed on. If water is scarce, they have been observed drinking from pools or water droplets on leaves.

– In captivity, the Buffy Hummingbird has been known to live for over 5 years, an impressive lifespan for such a tiny bird. In the wild they likely live 2-4 years on average.

In summary, the Buffy Hummingbird is a small but flashy hummingbird endemic to the arid coasts of Peru and Chile. Their unique plumage sets them apart from other South American species. They are feisty, energetic birds adapted to thriving on sparse nectar resources in harsh environments. Maintaining habitat and food sources will be key to the Buffy’s future conservation. With a flexible lifestyle and ability to enter torpor, they are resilient birds that persist across both urban and wild landscapes within their narrow coastal range.